My youngest daughter’s nickname of the “Hurricane” was preceded by a moniker of “Wiggle Worm”. She earned the name early because it was used so often in her honor.
This is the newborn who could squirm her feet out of the snaps of her “sleep and play” outfits. The infant who would push herself back on her Boppy until her head was hanging off- upside-down, mind you- and drink her bottles in that position. The baby who had a hard time falling asleep because her arms could not seem to stop reaching and grasping.
And thus the reason we began swaddling little Violet, from the time she was very tiny, and for many months afterward.
Swaddling is a long practiced tradition of tightly wrapping an infant in blankets, swaddling cloths, or something similar to restrict the movement of their limbs. We know that infants are tightly confined in the womb, and so it makes sense that they would find comfort and security in a similar feeling once they are born. Swaddling has gained popularity in recent years as medical experts champion its ability to help infants sleep better and even prevents SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Many mothers know of swaddling benefits without doctors' opinions however, because they have seen the wrapping of a squalling baby result in sudden peace.
Swaddling is generally a practice most beneficial for newborns. Once a child has more control over their limbs and is learning to move independently, especially around five months when a baby may begin attempting to roll, swaddling outside of sleep time is no longer wise. Baby needs to be free to move and gain muscle strength. Swaddling can continue to be used in older babies, usually younger than one year, but should really only be used to aid in sleeping.
My daughter, Violet, has always been very active. And from her early weeks, it was easy to see that her constant movement was disturbing her own ability to sleep. It was as if she couldn’t hold still long enough to nod off. This is when we discovered the benefits of swaddling in our family. (My older daughter hadn’t needed it.) We would tightly wrap Violet in a receiving blanket in a classic swaddle wrap and then secure this with a specially designed blanket for swaddling. She was magically able to fall asleep and slept more soundly! Seeing her so tightly wrapped never failed to make us laugh as well, and resulted in fun new names like, our little “baby burrito”.
As she grew, Violet was able to work herself out of the
swaddling blankets as she slept, and would normally have at least her arms
completely loose when she woke up in the morning. Although she still enjoyed
it, we finally stopped swaddling her when she was around eight months old
because she was just getting too big for the blankets! And, truth be told, it
was becoming a little ridiculous, swaddling a baby who was already cruising.
Lay a lightweight, breathable (preferably square) blanket flat.
Fold down one corner at least six inches into the center of the blanket.
Lay baby with their body on the blanket and their head above the fold, their shoulders even with the fold.
Tuck one of baby’s arms near their body, then cross the corresponding corner (about even with their elbow) across their arm and body. Tuck the corner underneath
Fold the bottom corner straight up over their feet, toward their chin. If it extends too high, simply fold it back again.
Tuck their remaining arm across their body. Take the remaining corner of the blanket and wrap it over this arm and as far around their body as it will go, tucki
How to Stop Swaddling
Eventually you will need to stop swaddling your baby, whether it is because they are growing too large for the blankets or they are simply becoming more mobile and need to learn to sleep without it.
No matter the reason, there are a few methods you can employ when you’re ready to stop swaddling your little one. First of all, you can begin wrapping them a little more loosely each night (in only one, light breathable blanket) until baby does not need to be wrapped at all anymore.
Another technique is to leave one of baby’s arms loose for a week or two, then switch to the other arm for the same amount of time. After they have adjusted to this difference, you can leave both their arms completely free and finally their legs after another few days.
The final method would be to go “cold turkey” and stop swaddling baby immediately and completely. This may result in several rough nights for you and baby though, as they learn to adjust to this new arrangement.
Be aware that whatever method you choose, as with any transition, the older a baby is, the longer they will need to adjust. An infant who is only three months old can change routines with only a few days to adapt, a six or eight month old will often need several weeks of consistency to fully adjust.
So here’s to swaddling! All of its joys and soothing abilities- may our babies rest in peace! Share your own swaddling stories below, and advice on how or why to swaddle- or stop.
Comments 3 comments
- How to Swaddle a Baby
Swaddling how-to for parents--reasons to swaddle, tips to remember and step-by-step techniques.
- Swaddling a Baby
What are the risks and benefits of swaddling a baby? "Getting my baby to sleep through the night, and quickly comforting him when cries, was easy once I started swaddling him with a blanket. But friends have warned me that a baby can get addicted to
- Swaddling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Swaddling your baby | BabyCenter
Find out why some newborns like to be snuggly wrapped and how to do it properly.
More by this Author
Shopping for and choosing the right double stroller should not take as much research, deliberation, and second-guessing as buying a wedding dress. It shouldn’t, but it can- and often does. Non-parents...
The wind is so cold it feels as if my jeans are being freezing onto my legs. My breath hangs in clouds in front of me. If I breathe in too deeply, the air is so frigid it causes me to cough. Welcome to Wisconsin in...
If you are flying with your baby or toddler for the first time, or just need a refresher, here are a few tips for the trip.